Monday, March 23, 2015

What The What...?

It is officially the second full day of spring so imagine my surprise when I looked up from reading my cozy mystery book and saw nothing but white outside my front window. Flipping down the footrest of the Lazy Boy, I rushed to open the front door to check it out. This is what I saw...

light flurries. Just enough to dust the driveway and flower-bed-to-be. Curious to see how the animals were taking it, since they had all been lolling around the pasture earlier enjoying the mild weather, I put on some shoes and a jacket (with a hood) and went out the back door. In just the short amount of time that it took me to prep myself the snow had picked up and this is what I found in the boys' pasture:

The girls and little Mocha must have headed for the barn as soon as the snow began to fall because they were nowhere in sight. However, Asterius and Brutus were behaving like the true mountain animals that they instinctively are and had remained in their pasture still looking for that bit of grass that might have been poking through the snow. Obviously the snow had picked up because both of them were covered with a heavy frosting of the white stuff. Although it looks as if they were posing for me I know they really were hoping that I had come bearing treats for them.

Nikko, the self appointed guardian of the herd, was laying down at the far end of his run nearest to the girls' barn. He is always eager for treats and to pose for pictures, so he came running when he realized that I was at the fence. His fleece was also thickly covered with a coating of the new snow.

He put his head over the fence for a quick "nose kiss" and went back to his spot at the other end of the run when he realized that he wasn't going to get a treat from me.

Although it's still snowing and has been for the past half hour, I'm confident that it will go away soon. The weather report for tomorrow says it's going to be 63 degrees and rainy. Not surprising. That's spring in Ohio!

I have been busy for the past week or so washing the downstairs curtains and repainting the downstairs trim. I finally finished it on Saturday morning. That afternoon Rich helped me clean the carpet in the living room. I began the project thinking that those tasks were all that I would have to do of spring cleaning but like so often happens, now I notice how bad the walls look and so have plans to paint the downstairs bathroom and kitchen. That task has to be put off for a week or two because our social schedule has been picking up, too.

Saturday evening we met some good friends at a German restaurant not far from here for dinner. We hadn't seen them since last fall so it was fun to have a couple of  "biers" and catch up with them. Then on Sunday we hosted several members of  Rich's large extended family to celebrate his mother's birthday. I hit the mother-in-law jackpot when I married into this family. Delores is one of the sweetest women I know and I consider her next to sainthood for successfully raising five sons. She welcomed me to the family with open arms and has always made me feel like a daughter.

I have been cooking and baking most of the day today, preparing to host my girlfriends at our monthly luncheon. We rotate each month to a different member's home and this month it's my turn. I have been planning an Irish dinner in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I baked Irish soda bread today and this evening Rich is going to help me prepare mashed potatoes which I will reheat in the oven tomorrow and serve with Irish sausages. I prefer "bangers and mash" to the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal. This is a monthly gathering that I always look forward to. Cead mile failte!

Friday, March 6, 2015

An "International Woman" For An Afternoon

I had the most delightful experience this afternoon when I joined my friend, Athena, and her women's group for lunch. Athena, was born in Greece and married an American soldier, Jim, who brought her at a very young age, back to the USA. We met them in a very round-about way several years ago through Jim's brother, Steve, who is friends with Rich and they have become friends as well. About a week ago, Athena contacted me and asked if I would like to accompany her to her International Women's group luncheon at the home of one of the members. I didn't hesitate even a minute for the simple reason that all of Athena's Face Book posts with her girlfriends look as if they are having such a riotous fun time. I wasn't disappointed.

We were instructed to bring a dish that reflected our heritage so let me tell you, that buffet was filled to overflowing with some of the most delicious dishes I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The smells in that kitchen when we entered were so overwhelming that I could hardly wait to dig in. Athena had made her spanakopita that she has served up on other occasions when Rich and I dined at her house. It is one of my favorite dishes so I ate a small piece with my lunch. She also sneaked a small plate full for me to take home to Rich. There were hummus type dips, salads with mint and spices, bulgar and tomato casseroles, keftedes,  eggplant casserole and so many desserts.

Rola, our hostess, (that's her beside me on the left in the picture below) was so gracious and made us all feel like very welcome and honored guests in her lovely home. I met so many diverse and interesting women of a variety of ages and occupations. I had a long conversation with Claudia, a knitter like myself. We are now friends on where I have already checked out some of her past projects. She is a talented knitter and crocheter who has created some beautiful pieces of work.

I always enjoy time spent with Athena. I learn so much from her about Greece and the Greek people which helps ground me in my own Greek heritage. Athena is funny and fun to be around. She's also a great cook and a good friend.

After record low temperatures for February and early March it looks like it's finally going to begin warming up this weekend. By mid-week we may see temperatures reach 50 degrees! Even so, it is going to be quite a while before all of the snowdrifts and piles of snow shoveled around the driveway and pasture melt away. Meanwhile, the alpacas are picking their  way around the drifts and trying to spend more time in the pasture. The other day I caught Asterius playing "king of the hill" on the drift that abuts Nikko's pasture, while Brutus and Mocha looked on.

Asterius is the more dominant of the two boys in the yearling pasture. Brutus is more laid back. But if Asterius decided to go over the fence into Nikko's area, he may get more than he bargained for. Now that Nikko has been successfully bred to our three females he has taken on the role of herd protector and dominant male. That's why he is in a pasture of his own. He bullied the two little guys when they were all together. So far Asterius is content just to climb his little mountain and look over the fence. Soon it will all melt away and any risk of mayhem will pass.

On these sunny days all of the animals seem to know that there is grass somewhere beneath the coating of snow and they can be seen nosing around looking for it. Often they come up with frosted noses and perplexed looks as if they are demanding, "Where is our grass?"

Soon, kids, be patient like the rest of us!